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Early numbers show enrollment increases for community colleges, slight decreases for some universities

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

For-credit enrollment at Alabama’s community colleges increased more than 6% system wide this fall, according to preliminary numbers.

Enrollment is now about 75,600 students taking classes that count toward degrees or certifications, compared to 70,904 in fall 2020, according to Alabama Community College System data shared with Alabama Daily News on Wednesday.

Those numbers do not include adult education classes or some workforce development courses taken not for credit.

Twenty of 24 colleges saw enrollment increases this fall, Olivier Charles, vice chancellor for student success, told the community college system board on Wednesday.

“This is part of that COVID recovery we hope to continue,” he said.

In fall 2019, enrollment totaled 79,746.

Community college enrollment has trended down in recent years, in part attributed to the availability of jobs.

The state’s four-year college system meanwhile saw a 1.4% decrease systemwide in undergraduate students to 130,529, according to early numbers.

Eight of the 14 state universities reported decreases.

“The preliminary 2021 fall enrollment numbers are reflecting minimal decreases at a few of our institutions,” ACHE Executive Director Jim Purcell told Alabama Daily News. “These early numbers may be attributed to Covid concerns and available job opportunities.  We will have a more definite picture next January when the final 2021 fall enrollments numbers are available,”

Universities’ graduate enrollment ticked up about 3.2%.

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